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Glendale police admit numbers mistake

Faulty record-keeping meant the count for 2011 was artificially low.

April 05, 2013|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

An apparent jump in the number of use-of-force incidents in 2012 is actually the result of faulty record-keeping that made the number for 2011 seem lower than it was, Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa said this week.

There were 92 reported use-of-force incidents in the Glendale Police Department in 2012 — a 62% increase from the 56 reported in 2011.

But De Pompa said the incidents logged for 2011 were underreported and "could have been higher," possibly in the 70s or 80s.

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He attributed the error to an influx of new supervisors who hadn't been fully trained on identifying and reporting certain uses of force, such as placing a hobble restraint or spit mask on arrestees. The supervisors, he said, have now been properly trained to spot certain use-of-force incidents and report them.

"They are going to make mistakes," De Pompa said, adding that while errors were made, police officials have identified them and are making the appropriate changes.

The exact revised number for 2011 was not immediately available.

Police officials performed a sampling of numerous reports and discovered some "minor incidents" hadn't been reported, Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

"We do intend to go back and correct it as much as we can," he said. "We want to be able to go back and identify a trend, if there is one."

It's not unusual for certain statistics to change as police agencies exercise better accountability and use improved reporting systems, said Michael Gennaco, chief attorney at the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, which provides civilian oversight of sheriff's operations and tactics.

He added that he understood De Pompa's concerns and hoped the issue was addressed in training.

"I have to give the chief credit for owning up to it," Gennaco said.

The Police Department began actively tracking use of force among its officers in 2009, when administrators logged 99 incidents. That number decreased to 77 the following year.

Officers have used Tasers, unarmed striking, impact weapons, firearms, physical control techniques, batons, canines, carotid restraints and chemical agents during their encounters with the public, according to the Police Department reports.

Physical control techniques increased from 25 in 2011 to 35 last year, according to the report. Other use-of-force incidents, including take-downs, jumped from eight in 2011 to 20 last year.

Use of Tasers rose from seven in 2011 to 12 last year. A single firearm incident was logged for 2011 and 2012.

Last January, police killed a suicidal man on Riverside Drive who threatened officers and ignored demands to drop a knife.

The man, Richard Hughes, ignored police demands to drop the knife and came within striking distance of an officer, who then fired a shot into his chest. Police later found two knives next to Hughes. The officer in the shooting was cleared after investigators determined he acted in "lawful self-defense."

Last April, a police officer had to use a Taser after he suffered a bite wound to his forearm when he tried to break up a fight between a lesbian couple.

A Taser was also used last May on a half-naked man who was reportedly running around South Glendale in his underwear trying to grab a group of teens.

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Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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